Hello, everyone!! I know it’s been awhile since my last post and I have to be honest grad school life has sucked out any ounce of creativity that I had.

Belle states: I just finished the most wonderful story via Giphy.

1. All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir

Sadie Sink from the All Too Well The Short Film via Giphy

This book comes out in March and thanks to Penguin Teen I got an ARC of it! This is heartbreakingly beautiful and is a must-read for everyone!!

Here’s a synopsis:

Lahore, Pakistan. Then.
Misbah is a dreamer and storyteller, newly married to Toufiq in an arranged match. After their young life is shaken by tragedy, they come to the United States and open the Cloud’s Rest Inn Motel, hoping for a new start.

Juniper, California. Now.
Salahudin and Noor are more than best friends; they are family. Growing up as outcasts in the small desert town of Juniper, California, they understand each other the way no one else does. Until The Fight, which destroys their bond with the swift fury of a star exploding.

Now, Sal scrambles to run the family motel as his mother Misbah’s health fails and his grieving father loses himself to alcoholism. Noor, meanwhile, walks a harrowing tightrope: working at her wrathful uncle’s liquor store while hiding the fact that she’s applying to college so she can escape him—and Juniper—forever.

When Sal’s attempts to save the motel spiral out of control, he and Noor must ask themselves what friendship is worth—and what it takes to defeat the monsters in their pasts and the ones in their midst.

From one of today’s most cherished and bestselling young adult authors comes a breathtaking novel of young love, old regrets, and forgiveness—one that’s both tragic and poignant in its tender ferocity.

2. Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin

From You’ve Got Mail via Giphy.

This is a book that I resonate with a lot! I already posted my in-depth book review of all the reasons why I adore it earlier this year.

Here’s the synopsis:

Sales are slow at Three Sisters Biryani Poutine, the only halal restaurant in the close-knit Golden Crescent neighborhood of Toronto. Hana waitresses there part time, but what she really wants is to tell stories on the radio. If she can just outshine her fellow intern at the city radio station, she may have a chance at landing a job. In the meantime, Hana pours her thoughts and dreams into a podcast, where she forms a lively relationship with one of her listeners. But soon she’ll need all the support she can get: a new competing restaurant, a more upscale halal place, is about to open in the Golden Crescent, threatening her mother’s restaurant.

When her mysterious aunt and her teenage cousin arrive from India for a surprise visit, they draw Hana into a long-buried family secret. A hate-motivated attack on their neighborhood complicates the situation further, as does Hana’s growing attraction for Aydin, the young owner of the rival restaurant–who might not be a complete stranger after all. 

As life on the Golden Crescent unravels, Hana must learn to use her voice, draw on the strength of her community and decide what her future should be.

3. Misfit in Love by S.K. Ali

Two rings and underneath it says Forever via Giphy.

The best Muslim wedding! Here’s the synopsis:

Janna Yusuf is so excited for the weekend: her brother Muhammad’s getting married, and she’s reuniting with her mom, whom she’s missed the whole summer. 

And Nuah’s arriving for the weekend too. Sweet, constant Nuah. The last time she saw him, Janna wasn’t ready to reciprocate his feelings for her. But things are different now. She’s finished high school, ready for college…and ready for Nuah. It’s time for Janna’s (carefully planned) summer of love to begin—starting right at the wedding. 

But it wouldn’t be a wedding if everything went according to plan. Muhammad’s party choices aren’t in line with his fiancée’s taste at all, Janna’s dad is acting strange, and her mom is spending more time with an old friend (and maybe love interest?) than Janna. And Nuah’s treating her differently. 

Just when things couldn’t get more complicated, two newcomers—the dreamy Haytham and brooding Layth—have Janna more confused than ever about what her misfit heart really wants. Janna’s summer of love is turning out to b

4. The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Kylo and Rey from Star Wars

This is a book I’ve been rereading. It’s the perfect book to read after finals! If fake dating between scientists appeal to you then this is for you!! For those who don’t know this is also a Kylo x Rey fanfic. Here’s what it’s about:

As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees. 

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding…six-pack abs. 

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.

5. Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong

Taylor Swift in her Love Story music video via Giphy.

This epic conclusion to the duology is a must-read! It’s a Romeo and Juliet retelling. Here’s what it’s about:

The year is 1927, and Shanghai teeters on the edge of revolution. 

After sacrificing her relationship with Roma to protect him from the blood feud, Juliette has been a girl on a mission. One wrong move, and her cousin will step in to usurp her place as the Scarlet Gang’s heir. The only way to save the boy she loves from the wrath of the Scarlets is to have him want her dead for murdering his best friend in cold blood. If Juliette were actually guilty of the crime Roma believes she committed, his rejection might sting less. 

Roma is still reeling from Marshall’s death, and his cousin Benedikt will barely speak to him. Roma knows it’s his fault for letting the ruthless Juliette back into his life, and he’s determined to set things right—even if that means killing the girl he hates and loves with equal measure. 

Then a new monstrous danger emerges in the city, and though secrets keep them apart, Juliette must secure Roma’s cooperation if they are to end this threat once and for all. Shanghai is already at a boiling point: The Nationalists are marching in, whispers of civil war brew louder every day, and gangster rule faces complete annihilation. Roma and Juliette must put aside their differences to combat monsters and politics, but they aren’t prepared for the biggest threat of all: protecting their hearts from each other.

6. A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir

I like big books and I cannot lie via Giphy.

This is one of my favorite series ever!! Here’s what it’s about:

Picking up just a few months after A Reaper at the Gates left off…

The long-imprisoned jinn are on the attack, wreaking bloody havoc in villages and cities alike. But for the Nightbringer, vengeance on his human foes is just the beginning.

By his side, Commandant Keris Veturia declares herself Empress, and calls for the heads of any and all who defy her rule. At the top of the list? The Blood Shrike and her remaining family.

Laia of Serra, now allied with the Blood Shrike, struggles to recover from the loss of the two people most important to her. Determined to stop the approaching apocalypse, she throws herself into the destruction of the Nightbringer. In the process, she awakens an ancient power that could lead her to victory—or to an unimaginable doom.

And deep in the Waiting Place, the Soul Catcher seeks only to forget the life—and love—he left behind. Yet doing so means ignoring the trail of murder left by the Nightbringer and his jinn. To uphold his oath and protect the human world from the supernatural, the Soul Catcher must look beyond the borders of his own land. He must take on a mission that could save—or destroy—all that he knows.

7. We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal

Effie says May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor via Giphy.

If you’re looking for another epic duology this is it!! Here’s the synopsis:

Darkness surged in his veins. Power bled from her bones.

The battle on Sharr is over. The Arz has fallen. Altair may be captive, but Zafira, Nasir, and Kifah are bound for Sultan’s Keep, determined to finish the plan Altair set in motion: restoring the hearts of the Sisters of Old to the minarets of each caliphate, finally bringing magic to all of Arawiya. But they are low on resources and allies alike, and the kingdom teems with fear of the Lion of the Night’s return.

As the zumra plots to overthrow Arawiya’s darkest threat, Nasir fights to command the magic in his blood. He must learn to hone his power, to wield it against not only the Lion but his father as well, trapped under the Lion’s control. Zafira battles a very different darkness festering in her through her bond with the Jawarat―it hums with voices, pushing her to the brink of sanity and to the edge of a chaos she dares not unleash. In spite of everything, Zafira and Nasir find themselves falling into a love they can’t stand to lose . . . But time is running out, and if order is to be restored, drastic sacrifices will have to be made.

8. The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi

The Gilded Wolves Bookish meme via Google Images.

The Gilded Wolves is the first book in the series. I won’t spoil what happens but if you’re into geists then you need to read this!

9. You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao

Sadness from Inside Out and the captain states: “It’s Ok…. I’m fine.” via GIPHY which is how I felt after reading You’ve Reached Sam.

Here’s my interview with Dustin Thao for Pop-Culturalist: http://pop-culturalist.com/exclusive-interview-pop-culturalist-chats-with-dustin-thao/.

The synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Julie Clarke has her future all planned out–move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city; spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes. Heartbroken, Julie skips his funeral, throws out his belongings, and tries everything to forget him. But a message Sam left behind in her yearbook forces memories to return. Desperate to hear him one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cell phone just to listen to his voice mail recording. And Sam picks up the phone. The connection is temporary. But hearing Sam’s voice makes Julie fall for him all over again and with each call, it becomes harder to let him go. What would you do if you had a second chance at goodbye?

10. The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

My soulmate will be… books! via The Good Place

This is the best upper YA/Adult fantasy series!!! I’d recommend this to ANYONE.

On the streets of eighteenth-century Cairo, Nahri is a con woman of unsurpassed skill. She makes her living swindling Ottoman nobles, hoping to one day earn enough to change her fortunes. But when Nahri accidentally summons Dara, an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior, during one of her cons, she learns that even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

Forced to flee Cairo, Dara and Nahri journey together across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire and rivers where the mythical marid sleep, past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises and mountains where the circling birds of prey are more than what they seem, to Daevabad, the legendary city of brass. 

It’s a city steeped in magic and fire, where blood can be as dangerous as any spell; a city where old resentments run deep and the royal court rules with a tenuous grip; a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound–and where her very presence threatens to ignite a war that has been simmering for centuries.

11. Sweet & Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley

Spongebob says: “It’s magical!”

This was a book I wasn’t sure I’d love but I’m so freaking happy that I read it this year because it had an incredible plot!!

Tamsin is the most powerful witch of her generation. But after committing the worst magical sin, she’s exiled by the ruling Coven and cursed with the inability to love. The only way she can get those feelings back–even for just a little while–is to steal love from others. Wren is a source–a rare kind of person who is made of magic, despite being unable to use it herself.

Sources are required to train with the Coven as soon as they discover their abilities, but Wren–the only caretaker to her ailing father–has spent her life hiding her secret. When a magical plague ravages the queendom, Wren’s father falls victim. To save him, Wren proposes a bargain: if Tamsin will help her catch the dark witch responsible for creating the plague, then Wren will give Tamsin her love for her father. Of course, love bargains are a tricky thing, and these two have a long, perilous journey ahead of them–that is, if they don’t kill each other first.

12. The Lady or The Lion by Aamna Qureshi

Bookish meme one says Read the Books and the other says didn’t read the books!

This is a pakistani-inspired fantasy and I’m not saying you should read it just because Aamna is literally one of the nicest authors I know but it’s a compelling fast-paced fantasy novel!!

As crown princess of Marghazar, Durkhanai Miangul will do anything to protect her people and her land. When her grandfather, the Badshah, is blamed for a deadly assault on the summit of neighboring leaders, the tribes call for his head. To assuage cries for war, the Badshah opens Marghazar’s gates to foreigners for the first time in centuries, in a sign of good faith. His family has three months to prove their innocence, or they will all have war.

As Durkhanai races to solve who really orchestrated the attack, ambassadors from the neighboring tribal districts arrive at court, each with their own intentions for negotiations, each with their own plans for advantage. When a mysterious illness spreads through the villages and the imperialists push hard on her borders, Durkhanai must dig deep to become more than just a beloved princess-she must become a queen. 

To distract Durkhanai from it all is Asfandyar Afridi, the wry ambassador who tells her outright he is a spy, yet acts as though he is her friend-or maybe even something more.

13. The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Rory Gilmore is holding up a book and the caption says: “Now smell it.” via GIPHY.

If you ever loved The Westing Game when you were younger, this series is like an adult version of it. I adore both and even if you’re not into thrillers you should still give it a shot.

Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why — or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch — and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes.

Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a conwoman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.

14. Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

Star in The Hate U Give.

Concrete Rose is the prequel to The Hate U Give. I have already written a blog post on this earlier this year.

Here’s the synopsis:

If there’s one thing seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter knows, it’s that a real man takes care of his family. As the son of a former gang legend, Mav does that the only way he knows how: dealing for the King Lords. With this money he can help his mom, who works two jobs while his dad’s in prison.

Life’s not perfect, but with a fly girlfriend and a cousin who always has his back, Mav’s got everything under control.

Until, that is, Maverick finds out he’s a father.

Suddenly he has a baby, Seven, who depends on him for everything. But it’s not so easy to sling dope, finish school, and raise a child. So when he’s offered the chance to go straight, he takes it. In a world where he’s expected to amount to nothing, maybe Mav can prove he’s different.

When King Lord blood runs through your veins, though, you can’t just walk away. Loyalty, revenge, and responsibility threaten to tear Mav apart, especially after the brutal murder of a loved one. He’ll have to figure out for himself what it really means to be a man.

15. Wings of Ebony by J.Elle

Aang says : “Now… check this out!”

Author J.Elle is a new author that I recently discovered and I love her writing style!!! Ashes pf Gold is also getting a sequel.

“Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue’s taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders.

Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, where leaders protect their magical powers at all costs and thrive on human suffering. Miserable and desperate to see her sister on the anniversary of their mother’s death, Rue breaks Ghizon’s sacred Do Not Leave Law and returns to Houston, only to discover that Black kids are being forced into crime and violence. And her sister, Tasha, is in danger of falling sway to the very forces that claimed their mother’s life.

Worse still, evidence mounts that the evil plaguing East Row is the same one that lurks in Ghizon—an evil that will stop at nothing until it has stolen everything from her and everyone she loves. Rue must embrace her true identity and wield the full magnitude of her ancestors’ power to save her neighborhood before the gods burn it to the ground.

16. Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

How you’ll feel after reading this book via GIPHY.

This is the second book in the Brown Sisters Trilogy and it’s so freaking cute!

Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom.

When big, brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and former rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact to him, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Suddenly, half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse? 

Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf is secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his… um, thighs. 

The easy lay Dani dreamed of is now more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?

17. The Wild Ones by Nafisa Azad

A blonde woman says: “Keep Reading!” via Netflix

If you haven’t read a Nafisa Azad book, what are you doing? Go pick up one of her books from your local library.

We are the Wild Ones, and we will not be silenced.

We are girls who have tasted the worst this world can offer. Our story begins with Paheli, who was once betrayed by her mother, sold to a man in exchange for a favor. When Paheli escaped, she ran headlong into Taraana—a boy with stars in his eyes, a boy as battered as she was. He tossed Paheli a box of stars before disappearing. With the stars, Paheli gained access to the Between, a place of pure magic and mystery. Now, Paheli collects girls like us, and we use our magic to travel the world, helping to save other girls from our pain, our scars. 

When Taraana reappears, he asks for our help. Dangerous magical forces are chasing him, and they will destroy him to get his powers. We will do everything to save him—if we can. For if Taraana is no longer safe and free, neither are the Wild Ones. And that is a fate that we refuse to accept. Ever again.

18. Those Deadly Games by Diana Urban

Text states: “Because two can keep a secret if one of them is dead!”

This is Diana’s second book and it’s one pf my favorite thrillers. Diana has a way of making you want to read more!

Let’s play a game.

You have 24 hours to win. If you break my rules, she dies. If you call the police, she dies. If you tell your parents or anyone else, she dies.

Are you ready?

When Crystal Donavan gets a message on a mysterious app with a video of her little sister gagged and bound, she agrees to play the kidnapper’s game. At first, they make her complete bizarre tasks: steal a test and stuff it in a locker, bake brownies, make a prank call. 

But then Crystal realizes each task is meant to hurt–and kill–her friends, one by one. But if she refuses to play, the kidnapper will kill her sister. Is someone trying to take her team out of the running for a gaming tournament? Or have they uncovered a secret from their past, and wants them to pay for what they did… 

As Crystal makes the impossible choices between her friends and her sister, she must uncover the truth and find a way to outplay the kidnapper… before it’s too late.

19. Dating Dr.Dil by Nisha Sharma

Desi Wedding via Giphy.

Nisha Sharma is my new favorite romance author!! I love the desi rep.

Kareena Mann dreams of having a love story like her parents, but she prefers restoring her classic car to swiping right on dating apps. When her father announces he’s selling her mother’s home, Kareena makes a deal with him: he’ll gift her the house if she can get engaged in four months. Her search for her soulmate becomes impossible when her argument with Dr. Prem Verma, host of The Dr. Dil Show, goes viral. Now the only man in her life is the one she doesn’t want.

Dr. Prem Verma is dedicated to building a local community health center, but he needs to get donors with deep pockets. The Dr. Dil Show was doing just that, until his argument with Kareena went viral, and he’s left short changed. That’s when Kareena’s meddling aunties presented him with a solution: convince Kareena he’s her soulmate and they’ll fund his clinic. 

Even though they have conflicting views on love-matches and arranged-matches, the more time Prem spends with Kareena, the more he begins to believe she’s the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with. But for Prem and Kareena to find their happily ever after, they must admit that hate has turned into fate.

20. Huda F Are You? By Huda Fahmy

A young Muslim woman is adjusting her hijab via GIPHY.

Huda Fahmy’s comics are hilarious and I resonated with this muslim graphic novel. Even if you’re not Muslim, you’ll love the humor in this!

Huda and her family just moved to Dearborn, Michigan, a small town with a big Muslim population. In her old town, Huda knew exactly who she was: She was the hijabi girl. But in Dearborn, everyone is the hijabi girl.

Huda is lost in a sea of hijabis, and she can’t rely on her hijab to define her anymore. She has to define herself. So she tries on a bunch of cliques, but she isn’t a hijabi fashionista or a hijabi athlete or a hijabi gamer. She’s not the one who knows everything about her religion or the one all the guys like. She’s miscellaneous, which makes her feel like no one at all. Until she realizes that it’ll take finding out who she isn’t to figure out who she is.

2 thoughts on “The Best Books I’ve Read in 2021!

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